2021-03-10 04:54:20

Greetings.
Below you will find what is more than likely to be the definitive set of protocols for handling asset theft cases. These are not being officially enforced quite yet, as we are still waiting for an additional admin to weigh in. However, barring something substantial that we might have missed, it is a safe bet that this is what you can expect to become case law. That being said, you are welcome to engage in civil discussion regarding these policies, though we must emphasize that civility is paramount here. We will not take kindly to any unfounded detractions, i.e. bad faith arguments or other assorted aggravations, and those will be dealt with accordingly. In other words, do not come here expecting to eradicate these policies through bad faith arguments. What you are seeing here is more or less official.
With that out of the way, here are the policies as of the time of this writing:

policy

The following serves as what will become official protocol for dealing with projects that lift copyrighted assets.
These guidelines will outline what you need to know as a developer, what users need to know should they submit claims through the respective channels, and the protocol moderators and admins will follow for the associated investigations.

For Developers

Any claimant, regardless of their association with a given developer, has the right to inform us that a project contains copyrighted assets. If it has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that your project is thus affected, you will be notified immediately, and given a chance to respond in your own defense. Please be advised that failure to address a substantiated claim in an appropriate manner will result in links to the affected game or project being removed and disallowed from the community, both within the database and on the forum. We will not forbid discussion of your project, but will simply ask that it not be supported publicly due to its status. This no-support policy will remain in effect until such time that you have eliminated all problematic elements outlined in the claim leveraged against you. Since our stated aim is to limit or eliminate the unauthorized use of copyrighted assets within our community, and not to punish developers needlessly, we will readily resume active support of your project once the terms of the claim against you have been fulfilled.
Please note: the audiogames.net staff team has the right to pursue claimant action against any developer without other direct community involvement, provided all other qualifications of said claim are valid.

for claimants

We appreciate any help from the community in insuring that all projects remain free of stolen assets. However, we do ask that you take the following points into account before you attempt to register a claim against a developer or project.

  • Be thorough, accurate and unbiased
    We appreciate any help you may be willing to render in our efforts to end the misuse of copyrighted assets in our community. Please attempt to be as thorough and detailed as possible, with the understanding that an unsubstantiated claim will result in no action taken against the target of that claim. It is in everyone's best interest to represent their case openly, clearly and honestly.

  • Sound library asset use, on its own, does not constitute substantive proof of wrongdoing
    For obvious reasons, we do not condone the use of stolen sound libraries. However, a successful claim should consist of more than just an accusation that a developer is using a specific library in their project. There is no way for us to prove whether or not the developer in question has bought the sound library, short of asking them outright, and we will not engage in the practice of demanding receipts or anything else that we have no right to seek.

  • your word is not the primary deciding factor in the validity of a claim
    This guideline applies to users and developers alike. A project is never going to be adjudicated based on an individual account alone. The administration, when presented with a claim, will perform thorough research in order to obtain sufficient evidence before proceeding with any action. The most definitive evidence is likely to come from the owner of the copyrighted assets, or from someone otherwise close to the source, but this need not always be the case.

  • Please do not submit intentionally false Claims!
    If a user's claim has been substantially invalidated, and if it is deemed beyond a reasonable doubt to have been initiated for personal reasons, or as a means of unjustly targeting a project, developer or community member, the claimant will be issued an immediate double warning, citing character assassination and the community failure clause. Our aim is to reverse the prevalence of copyrighted assets, not to start a flurry of unfounded accusations. Claimants who seek to use this system in bad faith will be punished for attempting to weaponize this mechanism of safeguarding our community against potential legal trouble.

general notes
  • Asset lifting is more immediately detectable when a developer has taken assets directly from another specific project, not necessarily a library on its own.

  • When this policy is enacted, we will not be retroactively targeting every game under the sun containing copyrighted assets. Instead, we will react primarily based on verified claims or cases which have already been demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt. This policy is corrective, not retributive.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2021-03-10 05:28:54

I like what I am seeing here

2021-03-10 05:33:42

How exactly would you figure out if an asset was stolen? I am just curious if you actually have a way to varrify a claim.

Do asset files have a copyright statement somewhere? Otherwise, I could see this becoming a he said vs she said sort of thing.

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2021-03-10 05:34:53

I like these guidelines. I think this is completely fair.

Friend me on Discord: Garrett#0750

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2021-03-10 05:58:54

In some cases, verifying that an asset was improperly used will be extremely easy, but in others it will be more difficult.

We intend to keep open dialogue between the claimant and the defendant, with at least one member of the staff team as an intermediary. For instance, if Bob, the claimant, says that Jill stole twenty-four assets from their project, we will probably start by informing Jill that this claim has been made against her, but we won't obviously take action against Jill yet without proof. If Bob fails to provide strong proof that those were indeed his sounds in the first place, then Jill is going to face no repercussions. If Bob does provide proof that Jill stole his sounds, then we are going to stop supporting Jill's project until such time that they remove the problematic assets.

Now, as to whether or not a specific sound is definitely the property of one person or another, I believe there are ways - as evidenced in Tunmi's Golden Crayon thread - for the owner of a sound to indicate a reasonably foolproof way to recognize sounds as their own. I'm gonna be honest with you here, and say that I, personally, do not possess the requisite experience for this phase of the investigation, since I'm not a sound designer. However, we have several people on the team who know more about this than I do, so if there are smell tests to validate claims, they'd be the ones to ask. For that matter, I'm sure there are forum members who themselves could provide insight here.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2021-03-10 06:06:20

@swigjr23: You're right. That in and of itself is a tightrope. That's one of the reasons why we're counting on everyone to be fair, and why we have the clause against making intentionally false claims just so all our bases are covered. That being said, if a user submits a bona fide claim and it turns out they made an honest misjudgement, there's absolutely no risk of getting hit with a character assassination charge. The example here is if a user with past history of antagonizing developers makes a bad claim that doesn't even remotely come close to being valid.
As for how we determine validity, that depends on a number of factors. Generally speaking, the more detail, the better. A good example would be Phantom's findings of stolen assets reported in the GC thread. It doesn't get more definitive than that. Now, if a developer is missing in action or is otherwise unavailable at the time, some of us are sound designers ourselves and might be able to widdle it down, which would inevitably make it easier on the developer. I.e. We would be able to tell them, hey, we found a possible match, and they would come back and confirm as such if it was so. Obviously it's more difficult with people having free and easy access to sound encryption, but it is nevertheless possible.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2021-03-10 06:27:21

I like this concept in general, it seems like a good compromise in a shitty situation.  However it does need work.
First, someone really needs to decode this into simpler English.  Given the most likely target audience based on past interactions will be teens and young adults from outside the English speaking world, this is especially important
Second, without a submission template, or at the very least some good examples and or an FAQ, this guideline just feels too vague.  We have no real idea in practical terms what a good submission looks like or might contain.
Third, you may also want to reiterate that the decisions will be based on best judgement from the mods, and then explain who they will be judged by I.E the whole team?  at least 3 mods? and how to appeal if such will be allowed.

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2021-03-10 06:34:15

@Defender: Valid points.
Immediately for point 1 I would suppose we could do a summary in plain English above the main document, the way some more ethical companies handle their terms of service documents to make them easier to read.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2021-03-10 06:38:59

I do think the more complex explanation is needed, and shouldn't be stripped, but I agree that a simpler version is necessary.

We drafted this now for fairly obvious reasons, and are giving you folks a peek at it precisely for this reason, to catch stuff we haven't been as clear on as we might have liked. It's important to note that it's not a rule yet, so there is still time to fine-tune it.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2021-03-10 11:21:23

These are great guidelines, I think they'll help a lot.
But I agree with Defender's points, a template is really necessary in my opinion.

And now I have a more technical question:
In our claims, how are we supposed to specify which exact sounds are stolen? Nowadays, most games put their sounds in a .dat-file, they are therefore encrypted. Or do we not need to be this detailed in our claims?

Greetings and happy gaming, Julian

If you say you never lie, you're a liar.

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2021-03-10 11:51:50

Seems fair, but what if the game developer is not on this forum and his/her game is posted here by its player?

I am a ripoff of my mother,
and my mother is a ripoff of my grandmother.
We're all bitching about game clones,
and by generations of generations, we're based off stolen code.

2021-03-10 13:16:06

@12: Then they'll probabbly just remove links to the game, nothing more.

Greetings and happy gaming, Julian

If you say you never lie, you're a liar.

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2021-03-10 13:51:49

For unpayed volunteers, this is a kick ass effort. You guys are going above and beyond, and me speaking for both myself and others, we appreciate the work you are doing here. Seriously, hats off to y'all. Hopefully our general respect and our respect for assetts in this community will be increased by this movement.

I'm probably not making much sense in this post. Fuck English and my inability to use it affectively.

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2021-03-10 14:42:34

@14: Well said and I agree.

Greetings and happy gaming, Julian

If you say you never lie, you're a liar.

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2021-03-10 16:59:06 (edited by Dan_Gero 2021-03-10 17:01:26)

I have a couple questions about the guidelines that I didn't think about yesterday. The guidelines are great, but it seems they only account for clear cut violations. Here's where I'm confused.
A lot of older games, such as the GMA and Draconis titles, were created during a time where it was really hard to get your own assets, so they use stolen ones. A lot of these companies either aren't working on their games anymore or have gone completely out of business. It wouldn’t be feasible to expect them to strip their stolen assets and replace them with new ones, and considering those games have been around for almost 20 years it wouldn't make sense to remove them from the database either.
There are also games that have stolen assets strictly speaking, but they've been modified so heavily that it's hard to tell where they might have originally come from. This isn't an audio game, but Undertale is a perfect example and the only example I can come up with right now. There's a clip where a character says, "Hmm, that's a wonderful idea." This clip came from a 1960s McDonalds commercial, but it's been pitched up and another pitch layer was added to it to make it sound more demonic. Another example from the same game is the voice clip for Sans. This split second vocal sound was ripped strait out of a scene from Spongebob Square Pants. There's probably more sounds that are ripped from places as well, and I don't think the companies in charge of these commercials/shows would have just told Toby Fox that he could use those clips. In these cases though, I'm not sure if there's a law that allows this sort of thing within limits.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is, how will you guys determine where the thin line between too far and not far enough is located? I guess the rule where you won't take action unless someone reports a game could cover most of this, but at the end of the day, if the content creators come knocking on our door with threats because a game we haven't accounted for has stolen assets, we're not in a position where we could claim ignorance, because sadly that's not how the law works. I'd say go all the way with this, but examples above considered it's not that simple. Maybe I'm thinking about this a bit too hard, but these are just issues that naturally come to mind for me.

Friend me on Discord: Garrett#0750

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2021-03-10 17:26:31

@Dan_Gero: As far as I understand it, the guidelines won't affect old games.

Greetings and happy gaming, Julian

If you say you never lie, you're a liar.

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2021-03-10 18:28:08

The guidelines -can affect old games, but as was pointed out, it's a matter of scope and of reporting.

It's not realistic to be able to eliminate 100% of copyrighted assets from the community. Put simply, we are never going to catch absolutely everything. We're going to make an effort to catch and flag the biggest offenders, and we're going to rely on the community to help us with the rest.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2021-03-10 18:30:20

At Dan how do you know those sounds are actually stolen?
If you check back, at least draconis and PCS did make some games together, and especiall some of the explosion sounds in the GMA or draconis games can be found in old sound libary.
I guess either the devs shared the sounds amongst them selves or they purchased the same sound librarys.

Greetings Moritz.

Er nahm sie dann ins Stoßgebet,
der Kirchturmpfal zum Himmel steht,
Der Wein geweiht, die Erde bebt.
Dem Herr seih nah im Stoßgebet

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2021-03-10 18:36:59

I don’t think all the sounds are stolen, but I think some of them are. I know that at least some of Alien Outback’s music comes from the Descent games, and I think GMA Games used some Star Trek sounds on occasion. I don’t think they use very many stolen assets, but there are some to my knowledge. I could be wrong about that though.

Friend me on Discord: Garrett#0750

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2021-03-10 18:40:47

@DanGero: Not to mention Phil was a sound designer, and has explained pretty clearly how he has dealt with what he had for a lot of his games. Indeed, you might remember him being a strong supporter of NS Studio's Ultra Sound Collection, as it was an all-around sound library at an affordable price.
As for Undertale, I wouldn't even worry about that. That game is a mega-smash hit, and if they could afford to make that epic soundtrack then they can afford to get licenses to use those assets. THis is a mainstream game we're talking about, after all.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2021-03-10 18:51:50

Can confirm that yes, some of the older games absolutely do use copyrighted assets in some places. For instance, one of the player injury sounds in Shades of Doom is straight out of Mortal Kombat 2 or 3 (I misremember which one). And the sound that's playing while you're in the elevator is actually a clip from the very beginning of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine".

Again though, the issue is that this is a corrective policy, not a retributive one.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2021-03-12 01:30:00 (edited by Jaseoffire 2021-03-12 01:31:02)

@16 Fair use is a thing. I think that's why Undertale has not been crushed for its uses. I recall that Toby Fox was biting that line a couple of times, and even cut stuff  for fear of how close it was. Like the use of the Star Fox soundfont. To the mods, for practical reasons, could we allow the fair use defense as an affirmative defense? I have a feeling that it might be necessary in more vague cases. In the more obvious case, where the effects are unmodified, this wouldn't  work out too well, but for some of the cases that 16 presented, that might be a necessary issue to weigh.

Otherwise, good to see this step being taken. Never a pleasant thing to have to do, but it must be done.

I have a website now.

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2021-03-12 02:12:04

Fair use will absolutely fall into play here. It cannot and will not protect larger-scale copyright infringements, but for smaller and less egregious stuff, or where assets are clearly not directly used for profit (financial or otherwise), then yes, that's potentially an affirmative defense.
My impression of this is that fair use will cover some things, but invoking is not a get-out-of-trouble-free card.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2021-03-12 22:06:30

Speaking of fair use. I'd like it if the factors of fair use were taken into account though and not just saying oh, there's no profit so...fair use. It's worth pointing out it's not a simple thing at al and there's a whole slidng scale with it with each of the four factors

If in doubt, chocolate and coffee. Enough said.

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2021-03-12 22:38:04

@JaceK is correct on this one, and fair use is intentioanlly vague due to it being designed to be open to interpretation.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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